Making a Diagnosis

Chinese Face Diagnosis

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are very old. The written record for this medicine goes back more than 2,500 years, with the earliest texts recording a theory that was already advanced in its philosophy. Presumably, there were even older texts that haven't survived into modern times, predated by a long history of oral tradition. This makes Chinese medicine much older than the many diagnostic tools of Western medicine like blood tests, cell cultures, urinalysis, ultrasound, x-rays, EKGs, and MRIs. So how is a diagnosis made in Chinese medicine? By starting with the patient's chief complaint and framing it within a picture of their overall health. The main diagnostic tool is the interview process, though Chinese medicine has many other ways to gather information including observation and palpation.

Listening - The Incredible Value of the Interview Process

I spend a lot of time interviewing my patients. This process not only helps me clarify what your chief complaint is but reveals other information. For example, the strength of your voice may reflect the health of your lungs, your energy level, or your emotional state. For those of you who come in with chronic conditions, general questions about all of your body's systems and functions are invaluable in helping me put things into the bigger context of your overall health, identifying any deeper issues. I generally ask my patients questions about their chief complaint and related symptoms, and may also ask about many other things such as general medical history, medications, diet, family medical history, exercise regiment, sleep, immunity, appetite, digestion, urination, menstrual cycle, reproductive health, circulation, energy levels, respiratory health, mental function, sensory organs, physical pain, and emotional balance. I strongly believe that a thorough interview leads to a better diagnosis and a more effective treatment.

Observation - How Your Outward Appearance Reflects Your Inner Health

This is one of the most important aspects of diagnosis in Chinese medicine and can reveal many things, from physical issues to your general energy level and even your emotional state. Observing how you walk, for example, can show how your structure is off balance or if certain areas are contracted. The health of your skin, hair, and nails, the color and condition of your complexion, the appearance of your eyes, and so many other things can all give important information about your overall health. Because they are so individualized and dynamic, in Chinese medicine, the two most important tools of observation are facial diagnosis and tongue diagnosis.
 

Chinese Pulse Diagnosis

Palpation - The Pulse and More

If you come in complaining of pain and the tissue in that area is warm or hot to the touch, then there is probably some inflammation. If the tissue feels cold, there may be a lack of nourishment or circulation. Palpation of the abdomen can give information about what is going on with the internal organs. For those who are familiar with the location of the acupuncture points, indicators at these points, like muscle knots, can help determine which channels or internal organs are involved. Another very important part of palpation is in the reading of the pulse, which is evaluated not just for its speed and regularity but for qualities like force, tension, and depth.
 

Chinese Tongue Diagnosis

"While at an appointment for back issues, the subject of a nation of sleep deprived came up. I shared I was sleep deprived - my brain does not slow down to enter a deep sleep. Nancy said there was a treatment to declutter. WOW is an understatement! Thank you Nancy - I feel wonderful! I noticed the difference immediately and still feel great! What a blessing you are to your patients. I should have mentioned this ailment a year ago:-)" ~Rita D.
West Asheville Acupuncture
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2007-2024